Recap from SHAWN STEVENSON interview at Talks at google : SLEEP SMARTER


Shawn Stevenson is a bestselling author and creator of The Model Health Show, featured as the #1 Health podcast in the world on iTunes. 

With a University background in biology and kinesiology, Shawn is the founder of Advanced Integrative Health Alliance, providing wellness services for both individuals and organizations. Shawn is also a dynamic keynote speaker who has spoken for TEDx, universities, and numerous organizations.

Shawn breaks down why physiologically sleep is so critical, how many people approach getting sleep wrong, and quick hacks to get the best sleep of your life.


There is a lot of misinformation about being fit but one of the biggest missing pieces to this whole equation of having the body and health that we want is SLEEP. 


Two important studies:

1.Published in the Canadian Medical Association:

They took 2 individuals and put them on the exercise and the same diet plan one group is sleep deprived where they get only 5 hours of sleep and the other group gets 8 hours of sleep. At the end of the study, they found that the sleep-deprived group lost more weight.


2 Another study at the University of Chicago:

They took individuals and put them on a calorie-restricted diet (eat less and exercise more) and they found that the people who slept for 8 hours lost 55% of body fat. 



  • HGH [Human Growth Hormone]:

A large amount of production and secretion of HGH happens during the first part of the sleep. How this impacts fat loss:

  • This is a growth hormone and it helps to build more lean muscle tissues.
  • It is muscle protective. 
  • It gives a lot more energy and is called the youth hormone.


Cortisol is produced when we exercise more. It is also helpful in building the thyroid hormone.

Sleep deprivation has an immediate effect on elevated cortisol.

Cortisol is the opposite of growth hormone as it breaks down the muscle tissue.


MELATONIN: Melatonin has a huge impact on fat loss. Melatonin was found to increase the body’s, Brown Adipose Tissue.  It functions a lot like muscle and it burns the White Adipose Tissue.  By increasing the body’s ratio of brown adipose tissue we are increasing our metabolic rate. 


LEPTIN: Leptin is the satiety hormone.

GHRELIN: It is the body’s hungry hormone. One night of poor sleep leads to a 15% increase in ghrelin levels.   

GLUCOSE: There is a 6% decrease in the glucose level when we are sleep-deprived. A couple of years ago if there was a lack of glucose reaching your brain it meant DEATH. That would be an inability to procure food, to find shelter to protect the tribe.

When we are sleep deprived our Amygdala is basically hijacked. Any individual in a couple who is sleep-deprived will usually lead to an argument the next day. But the Amygdala doesn’t care and it is only worried about eating the cookies. So to avoid going to the Dark side we need to make sure that we are getting adequate sleep. 


Another study showed that the college students who quote themselves as poor sleepers and who get less than 6 hours of sleep per night perform as poorly in tests as individuals who were drinkers.

As our brain processes millions of information in a second, a lot of waste is generated and what is responsible to remove the waste is the GLYMPHATIC SYSTEM. During sleep, this system is 10 times faster and active when compared today. It has also been found that 60% of the brain cells decrease to provide more space for more information/ detoxification. 

Thus if we are not sleeping our brain is not detoxifying itself properly and can also lead to early memory loss.  

When we drink alcohol there is an interesting process that happens and it’s called the RIM REBOUND EFFECT. When we drink alcohol we don’t get adequate sleep and the next day we barely remember anything and that’s because the REM sleep is heavily disturbed. REM sleep is the stage where people sleep deeply and What they learn will be converted into short-term memory and later during deep sleep, the information gets converted into long-term memory. 

Caffeine has a half-life of 8 hours depending on our metabolism. For instance, if we consume 200 milligrams in a cup of coffee and after 8 hours 100 milligrams is still active in our system.

A study showed that the people who consumed caffeine 6 hours before bed also lost 1 full hour of sleep. So it is always good if you are on a caffeine curfew. Thus one can consume caffeine in the early part of the day i.e. in the afternoon. 


BLUE LIGHT: Working overnight is a cancer-causing agent that’s because while we are up in the night we are suppressing our melatonin which is a sleep hormone and is also the most powerful endogenous anti-cancer hormone that humans beings produce.

Harvard recently in their study proved that blue light suppresses melatonin. Every hour of phone usage in the night leads to 30% of melatonin suppression. 

They also found that red light was negligible in how it impacts our melatonin. People who use the phone at night at their jobs can use an app called Twilight and people who use computers or laptop can use the app called F.LUX

Instead of using the phone at night you can instead spend time with your spouse, kids, family, play games with your family or read a book, prepare a journal for the next day, fill that time with something that you enjoy and you’re going to sleep better immediately. 



There is 400 times more melatonin in our gut than in our brain. 

  1. We have to take care of our gut environment. 
  2. Feed them the right way.
  3. We need to eat good sleep nutrients.

Some practices keeping stress in check : [ A Cortisol rhythm ]

Our cortisol is supposed to be elevated between 6 and 8 am and they gradually decline in the evening. When people usually have low cortisol in the morning it becomes very difficult for people to peel themselves out of the bed and at night they are just wired and are awake.

But there are three ways to deal with this:

  • Exercise:

Appalachian State University did a stud;

They had exercise training three different times at 7 am in the morning, 1 pm in the afternoon, and 7 pm at night. They found that the people who train in the morning spend more time in the most anabolic deepest stages of sleep and they tend to sleep more. They had more efficient sleep cycles and they had a 25% drop in their blood pressure at night which is the correlation of the parasympathetic respiratory, digestive system and nervous systems. Thus exercising in the morning helps to reset the cortisol rhythm.

People who don’t have time to work out in the morning can try the Tabata Workout which lasts only for 4 min and involves 20 seconds of training and 20 seconds of rest. 

  • Smart sunlight:

A study showed that the individuals who got sunlight between the hours of 6 am and 8 am just for 10 min had their cortisol dropped in the evening because sunlight on our skin increases the cortisol. 

  • Meditation:

A study showed that 20 minutes of meditation in the morning for a group of insomniacs for eight weeks and essentially all of them were no longer considered to be sleep deprived.   


Key Takeaway

  • Every human being must sleep for a minimum of 6 to 7 hours a day.
  • Having a healthy diet and a good exercise regime will help in losing more weight. 
  • Whatever people learn during the day will be saved into the short-term memory and when having a good sleep it gets converted into long-term memory.
  •  Our phone usage at night may suppress our melatonin so we must use blue light filters in our electronic gadgets to protect our eyes to a certain extent.
  •  In order to reduce our stress, we must meditate for at least 20 minutes a day.
  • The people who usually work out in the morning tend to have a good sleep at night when compared to working out in the afternoon and in night.
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